Golden State Warriors season preview
This preview originally appeared in our 2023-24 VSiN NBA Betting Guide, which was released on Thursday, October 5. To become a VSiN Pro subscriber and get all of our NBA coverage throughout the season, click here.
Warriors Betting Odds
NBA Finals: +1300
Win Total: 49.5
Playoffs: Yes (-500)
The 2022-2023 season for Golden State was chaotic, to say the least. From the practice incident between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole, to the 11-30 SU/13-28 ATS record on the road and Stephen Curry missing 26 games, the Warriors never found their footing.
Personnel changes in the offseason seem geared toward not only improving the locker room dynamic for Golden State but also toward solving an issue that has haunted this team for the last two seasons: the non-Curry minutes.
When Curry was off the floor last season, the Warriors were outscored by 2.1 points per 100 possessions, and their offensive rating of 113.0 ranked in the 35th percentile. Those figures are much better than the season prior when Golden State had a 109.4 offensive rating without Curry, but it is still a large issue for this team.
In an effort to fix that problem, the team shipped off Jordan Poole and brought in Chris Paul from Phoenix. As of now, Paul has been somewhat cantankerous when it comes to his role with his new team, but bringing him off the bench is the best option for Steve Kerr.
The highest average scorer from last season on the bench right now outside of Paul is Jonathan Kuminga, who averaged 9.9 points per game. However, 70% of Kuminga’s made field goals were assisted on, meaning he is not a shot creator. Paul would give Golden State a shot creator amongst players who would thrive with a floor general like Paul. It would also limit a massive size issue starting Paul would manifest.
Golden State was 14th in overall rebounding rate last season (50.2%) and starting Paul would likely mean benching Kevon Looney in order to keep the core of Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green together. While those five could be an effective small-ball lineup, throwing that starting five out on a daily basis would present challenges once again on the glass for the Warriors.
There is also the potential that the decline in Paul’s game is real, and that Golden State acquired a guard who does not have much to offer. Paul averaged a career-worst 13.9 points per game on the worst points per shot attempt mark (110.8) since his second year in the league. He was consistently targeted on defense by opposing perimeter players. He is also already showing some resistance to what could be a role off the bench.
Even if Paul does hit — in whatever role he gets — there are some questions regarding the offensive production of the backups.
As previously mentioned, the bench lacks true shot-creators and scoring options. Moses Moody has shown flashes in his two seasons while shooting 36.3% from deep, but he’s only averaged 12.4 minutes per game and has not been a statistical positive in his time on the floor. Cory Joseph is a solid defender who can facilitate, but is not a knockdown shooter or lethal scorer. Gary Payton II is a great defender, but he’s an inconsistent shooter who is only lethal from the corners.
You get the idea.
The reality is, this season is all about what the bench can do for Golden State, because its foundation of Curry, Thompson and Green is still among the best in the league.
Curry improved the Warriors’ net rating by 8.6 points per 100 possessions on the floor last season, and he posted the third-best marks in his career in both points per 100 shot attempts (134.0) and points per game (29.4). The Warriors’ most-used lineup with him on the floor ranked in the 92nd percentile in net rating (+22.1) and averaged 128.5 points per 100 possessions.
There are some who might be concerned that Thompson is on the decline after he shot 38.8% from the floor and 36.8% from beyond the arc in the postseason, but he was a good player in the regular season. He shot 41.2% on 10.6 3-point attempts per game, and improved Golden State’s net rating by 3.6 points every 100 possessions on the floor.
Green is still one of the best defenders in the NBA, and when he was on the floor, the Warriors allowed 9.8 fewer points per 100 possessions. He is still just as effective as a facilitator of this offense. Green ranked in the 98th percentile at his position in assist rate (26.7%), and his presence on the floor improved the Warriors’ offensive rating by 4.2 points per 100 possessions.
Those three, along with Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney form one of the best starting lineups in the NBA, and as long as they can play this team will be live to win a fifth Larry O’Brien trophy.
Win Total Analysis
Positive Residual ranks Golden State’s schedule as the sixth-hardest schedule in the league. They play six games with a rest advantage, but nine will take place where they are at a disadvantage. They are also among the nine teams with 15 back-to-backs on the schedule, and they travel the 10th most miles.
All of this should come into consideration, especially for a team that struggled so greatly on the road last season. A 41-game sample size can be considered small, so it is likely that last year’s road issues are just an anomaly. However, we must also assume time missed for key players.
Curry has missed 44 games over the last two seasons. Green only missed nine last season, but 36 the season prior and has played less than 50 games in two of the last four seasons. If either of those two miss time this season this team could take a severe hit to its record. When you factor in how deep both the Pacific and the Western Conference are, it’s hard to recommend playing this team over its win total.
Win Total Recommendation: UNDER 49.5